Monday, September 8, 2014

In Search of Iain Matthews: Desert Inn

During the summer of 1973, I was fortunate to pick up a copy of Iain Matthews’ second album, “If You Saw Thro' My Eyes.”  Its characteristic indigo cover definitely caught my eye as I slugged through various discount bins at my local F.W. Woolworth’s. That spring, I had previously purchased an import of “The History of Fairport Convention” with Pete Frame’s lovely family tree of the band. It was my second Fairport LP and it gave me a taste of the band's music from their second LP to their yet unreleased “Rosie.”  I had been previously been given the American release of their self-titled debut album. 

It was Frame’s tree that provided me knowledge of the various Fairport Convention alumni’s extra curricular activities. These other projects included Matthews Southern Comfort, Plainsong, Steeleye Span, Strawbs, Fotheringay, Trader Horne, and others. With my heightened awareness of the various members and their activities, I set out to find these recordings. Matthews’ “If You Saw Thro' My Eyes” was my first find in my extra-Fairport quest.

The Side A Vertigo Label as used on this album.

This 1971 release is one of my favorites by Matthews and it features notable guest musicians including Fairport alumni Sandy Denny on vocals and Richard Thompson on guitar and accordion. There also were a couple members of Sandy Denny’s Fotheringay project: Pat Donaldson on bass and Gerry Conway on drums. Rounding out the lineup was guitarist Andy Roberts, who would later become Matthews’ partner in Plainsong, and guitarist Tim Renwick, a member of Quiver.

The Side B label with Side A info included.

“If You Saw Thro' My Eyes” is probably my favorite Matthews album. Today, I am featuring the lead track “Desert Inn.” I will have to admit that I don’t quite understand the lyrical content of this and several other songs on the album, but I really like the tune. What’s not to like? There’s innovative guitar leads by Richard Thompson, backup vocals by Sandy Denny, and Matthews’ impeccable voice. Listening to it “helps me keep alive and kickin’.”

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